Travelling with kids can be a wonderful experience, if you plan your trip with military precision. After five years of travelling around Australia and the world with two small children, here are my top 10 tips.
1. Leave as early as possible in the morning if you’re going on a long driving trip. That way you’ll avoid the holiday traffic, and the kids will be so tired they’ll fall asleep in the back seat.
2. Games: I Spy and the good old Etch-a-Sketch are highly underrated. For young children, you can also buy colouring in books with a water pen. They ‘paint’ water onto the page and the colours appear then magically disappear. Hours of entertainment!
3. Portable DVD players are worth every last cent. There is one hitch though. New research shows that they can cause serious head injuries in the event of a car accident. Make sure you buy the proper straps to attach them to the front seat headrests.
4. Pack lots of healthy food into small Tupperware containers. Handing over low G.I. snacks on a regular basis can break up the journey, and moderate their mood as well.
5. There’s a terrific government website which identifies clean and safe toilets along your route. Just log on to www.toiletmap.com.au.
6. Consider travelling by train. I recently took my five year old on an overnight train trip from Brisbane to Charleville, in central Queensland. It was much more relaxing than flying, and what kid doesn’t enjoy trains?
7. For a long plane trip, wrap up lots of tiny ‘presents’. The kids are allowed to open one present per hour if they’ve been good. It also gives them plenty of different toys to play with.
8. Let them pack their own bag/backpack with their favourite toys and books. Then, if they’re missing something, you don’t get the blame!
9. Don’t over-pack. Put the amount of clothes you think they’ll need into a suitcase – then take out a third.
10. Remember that you are the boss. It’s easy to get caught up in constantly doing what the kids want. Take the time to do things that make the adults happy as well!